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Infantile Diarrhoea

Paediatrics

Infantile Diarrhoea is a common health issue in infants and young children, especially when the stools they pass are watery or excessively mushy. For slightly older children, having bowel movements that are soft or watery 2 to 3 times a day may be considered diarrhoea. Since diarrhoea can lead to losing fluids and electrolytes, infants are particularly prone to dehydration. Therefore, diarrhoea may last for several days and pose a risk of dehydration, which can be a significant concern for infant health.

Although diarrhoea in infants is common, it must be taken seriously, especially when there is a risk of dehydration. Parents and caregivers should closely monitor the symptoms of diarrhoea in babies and seek appropriate medical attention.

Common Causes of Infantile Diarrhoea

Infectious Factors
  • Viral infections: Such as rotavirus and norovirus, are the most common causes of diarrhoea in children, especially toddlers.
  • Bacterial infections: Such as Salmonella, Escherichia coli, and Shigella, spread through contaminated food or water.
  • Parasitic infections: Such as Giardia and amoebiasis, are transmitted through contaminated food or water.
Food Factors
  • Food allergies: Allergic reactions to food components such as milk, eggs, peanuts, etc.
Medication Side Effects
  • Antibiotic-associated diarrhoea: Antibiotics may disrupt the balance of normal intestinal flora, leading to diarrhoea.
  • Other medications, such as certain pain relievers and anticancer drugs, may also cause diarrhoea.
Digestive System Disorders
  • Such as gastroenteritis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, etc.
Malnutrition and Improper Feeding
  • Improper feeding practices, such as introducing solid foods too early or inappropriately.
  • Nutritional imbalance or malabsorption.
Environmental and Hygiene Factors
  • Poor hygiene conditions and environment, such as using contaminated water.
Psychological Factors
  • Such as stress and anxiety; these emotional issues may cause diarrhoea in preschool and school-age children.
Poisoning
  • Ingestion of toxic substances or contaminated food and water.

Treatments

Medical Treatment

  • Doctors will carefully inquire about the medical history and perform a physical examination, mainly focusing on the abdomen, with particular attention to assessing dehydration. If diarrhoea is severe, the doctor may examine stool or urine to detect the cause of the illness and assist in determining dehydration.
  • If a bacterial infection causes diarrhoea, antibiotics may be prescribed. Before taking antibiotics, consuming some yoghurt can promote the growth of beneficial intestinal bacteria because antibiotics can simultaneously kill both beneficial and harmful bacteria.


Home Treatment

The primary approach to managing diarrhoea is controlling fluid and diet intake, so the recommended home treatments are as follows:

  • Oral rehydration solutions help treat diarrhoea by replenishing lost fluids and providing appropriate amounts of salt and sugar. Drinking fruit juice, soda, or sports drinks is not recommended because excessive sugar content (such as some fruit juices containing sorbitol) may exacerbate diarrhoea.
  • If the child seems ready to start eating, start with small amounts of semi-solid food, as a continuous liquid diet can eventually lead to diarrhoea, and try to avoid irritating foods as much as possible.
  • Avoid giving the child too much milk. Milk contains a lot of lactose, and children often lose lactase during diarrhoea, leading to incomplete digestion of milk, which may worsen diarrhoea.
  • Avoid consuming greasy foods, as fats cannot stay in the intestines long enough to digest fully.

Handling

Has your child taken any medication?YES➡️Seek medical attention immediately
NO⬇️  
Have any of the following symptoms occurred?
⚠ Blood in stool
⚠ Severe abdominal pain
YES➡️Seek medical attention immediately
NO⬇️  
Have any of the following symptoms occurred?
⚠ Infants under six months old have not eaten for more than 3 hours
⚠ Infants under 1-year-old have had more than three watery stools in one day
⚠ Infants under 1-year-old have had more than seven loose stools and vomiting in one day
⚠ Diapers have not been wet for the past 6 hours
YES➡️Seek medical attention immediately
NO⬇️  
Has your child shown signs of dehydration?
Decreased urination and tears / Dry mouth / Sunken eyes / Confusion or irritability / Dry mouth / Reduced activity
YES➡️Seek medical attention immediately
NO⬇️  
Diarrhoea has lasted for 3 days, and has there been any improvement in the condition?NO➡️Seek medical attention immediately
YES⬇️  
Home treatment can be administered.  

FAQ

When infants and young children experience diarrhoea, it is strongly advised not to use anti-diarrheal medication on their own, predominantly adult anti-diarrheal medication, and it should not be given to children. The primary treatment goal for infant and child diarrhoea is to prevent dehydration and electrolyte imbalance rather than immediately stopping diarrhoea. Parents should seek medical advice promptly to determine the cause of diarrhoea and receive appropriate treatment guidance.
If a baby is breastfeeding, it should continue because breast milk helps resist infection and promotes rapid recovery of intestinal health.
Maintaining good environmental and food hygiene, ensuring clean drinking water, timely vaccination (such as rotavirus vaccine), and avoiding feeding infants and young children foods that may cause allergies or intolerance.

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